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Saturday, 4 June 2016
Hi Matthew, thank you for joining me here at the Lad Lit Blog. Could you tell me a bit about yourself and your books?
Good to be here…virtually. I’m an advertising copywriter in Baltimore, Maryland with a wife and two daughters. At night and on weekends, I write novels. First and foremost, my books are comedies. It’s taken me a while to fully admit that to myself. There are serious things in them, of course—even downright depressing things. But humor is always there. I like comedy because it makes the difficult stuff more palatable.
You have a new book coming out now called We're All Damaged. What can you tell me about it and why should readers pick up a copy?
Again, it’s a comedy, which I think makes it fun to read, and it’s filled with pop culture references and contemporary music. But, at its core, We’re All Damaged is about a guy named Andy Carter and his journey back from heartbreak. Man or woman, young or old, gay or straight, we’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been, well…damaged. Consequently, through all of his bad decisions, questionable behavior, and cries for help, I think readers will see a lot of themselves in Andy.
The main character, Andy Carter, sounds like he is having a bit of a tough time. Why do we find other people's misfortunes so amusing?
In the context of fiction, I think it’s mostly about storytelling, really. Happy people with no problems and easy lives are boring to read about. The flip side of misfortune is redemption, which, ultimately, is something that I think readers are rooting for. If we’re talking about real life, though, I think the answer is more complicated. We’re a tear-down culture, for sure. Maybe other people’s problems help us deal with our own problems. If everyone’s unhappy, maybe it’s OK if I’m unhappy, too.
Your first book, Domestic Violets, was nominated for the Best Humor Category at the 2011 Goodreads. How much do nominations like this help you as an author?
Awards and recognitions can be really valuable, particularly for writers like me who have managed to so skillfully avoid fame. The Goodreads nomination introduced Domestic Violets to tons of readers who never would have seen it otherwise. It amounts to free publicity, essentially. And, you can never get too much of that.
Domestic Violets is about a struggling author trying to make his way in life. Any of your own experiences in there? Not that I'm calling you a struggling author with family problems, it's just, you know... Damn, this is awkward. Maybe just answer the question and help me out here?
It’s far and away the most common question I get: How much of your writing is autobiographical? The answer is complicated, I suppose. If we’re just talking in generalities, than none of my work is autobiographical. That’s because there’s not a single scene or line of dialogue in either of my books that really happened. However, I’d be lying if I said that my real life experiences haven’t informed the books. In my first novel, Tom Violet hates his job and is trying to become a writer. I’ve lived that experience. In my second novel, Andy Carter is recovering from heartbreak and trying desperately to find his way in the world. I’ve lived that experience, too. So, is my writing autobiographical? The short answer: Yes. And no.
You write what I would call lad lit, but how would you describe style of your writing?
We don’t have that term in the U.S. Over here, there’s “chick lit,” obviously, but no one is exactly sure what to call the male version of that. Here’s the simplest description I can come up with: I write very contemporary comedies about relationships and families, and, so far, I’ve done that through a male point of view. I heard someone say “dick lit” once. But…that’s just gross.
Who are your favourite authors writing in the same or similar genre?
My favorite writer is Richard Russo. His novels taught me that serious—sometimes very serious—fiction can also be funny as hell. A close second to him would be Nick Hornby. Anyone who writes the types of books that I do owes Mr. Hornby a huge debt of gratitude. When you read his work, you laugh and then you cry, and all the while you’re nodding your head, because he just gets it. Jonathan Tropper and Tom Perrotta are great, too. I like those guys a lot.
Out of all the characters you have written, who is your favourite and why?
In We’re All Damaged, there’s a group of gay rights activists that call themselves the Glitter Mafia. Their leader is a man named Stephen. Of all the imaginary people I’ve created, he’s my favorite. He was great fun to write because he says whatever the hell he wants, whenever he wants. More importantly, he plays a complicated role in the book. His cause is noble, but his tactics are mean-spirited and often, technically, illegal. I like the idea of forcing the reader, based on his or her political point of view, to cheer for someone who is a criminal.
If you could have dinner with any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
As much as I’d love to have dinner with Richard Russo, I’d probably just spend the whole time telling him how great he is. Consequently, I’ll say Jonathan Franzen. He’s arguably the most famous literary male novelist working at the moment. It’d be fun to get his perspective on writing. I’d ask him about what it’s like to write and to maintain focus amidst so much scrutiny from readers and critics. Whenever he writes something, it’s a full-on literary event. I feel like fame would be very distracting as a writer.
What can we expect from Matthew Norman next?
Another novel. Book #3 is well on its way. So far it’s coming together much faster and more smoothly than my last book. My wife and I had two kids while I was writing We’re All Damaged. Babies, in my experience, have very little respect for the writing process.
I know exactly what you mean! Thanks for joining me Matthew and good luck with the book!
Be sure to check out Matthew at his blog and on Amazon where you can pick up a copy of his brilliant new novel We're All Damaged for £3.99 on the Kindle.
Thursday, 26 May 2016
Food For Bookworms, and then it's off to Allie's Opinions (May 29), Matt Dunn's Blog (May 30), Chick Lit Uncovered (May 31), BrizzleLass Books (June 1), Books & Authors UK (June 2), and then Novel Kicks (June 3).
A huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in the tour so far. This takes us to 46 dates in total!
A huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in the tour so far. This takes us to 46 dates in total!
Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Sunday, 24 April 2016
"One month, 39 blogs, five countries, three continents and a whole host of interviews, character Q&A’s, guest blogs, book reviews and the odd giveaway – I am taking lad lit global. From London to California, Bradford to Texas, Ipswich to Montana; the #LadLitBlogTour bus will be globetrotting from as far afield as Australia then back into Europe across Scotland and The Netherlands, and it all starts here in Kent, England at Boon’s Bookcase…"
That is the exact intro that got the Lad Lit Blog Tour started with a bang on Boon's Bookcase with @JulieBoon on Tuesday, and wow what a week it has been since then. In fact, the whole tour started with a skip in its step following a bonus book review before the official April 19 start date.
On April 14, The Drought was given a five-star review on By The Letter Book Reviews, with Sarah Hardy (@sarahhardy681) saying: "The Drought is a hilarious novel that I think would definitely make a belter of a movie or television show. Would certainly highly recommend this to both sexes who have a good sense of humour and are in need of something more lighthearted."
From there it was off to My Book File Blog (who had already given four star reviews to The Drought and The Flood in March) for a Q&A session. My favourite question was when Cindy (@MybookfileBlog) asked me: "If you could take any of the women from The Drought and The Flood out on a date, who would you pick and why?" Check out the interview here for my answer.
Next up on day three was a trip to Bookaholic Confessions for another interview. Holly (@BookaholicHolly) - who is also running a giveaway for her readers to win a signed copy of The Drought on her site - was the perfect hostess. We had a good old chat about everything from lad lit to my stand-up comedy to my favourite authors. Check out the interview here. And I have just seen on Goodreads that Holly has finished reading The Drought so fingers crossed she enjoyed it!
Day 4 was with Linda Hill (@Lindahill50Hill) at Linda's Book Bag for a unique experience - an interview with Dan Hilles (lead character in The Drought). It was great fun actually, and Dan did a good job talking up the book if this tweet was anything to go by:
@Lindahill50Hill @SteveScaffardi I've been intrigued by these books for some time but having just read the interview I've bought TheDrought— Laurie Ellingham (@LaurieEllingham) April 22, 2016
Following that nice little surprise, an even bigger one was in store on day 5. First of all I stopped by for a pint and a packet of crisps with fellow lad lit author Jon Rance (@JRance75) to have a good chat about writing comedy, and then I got the added bonus of a five-star review for The Drought from Michelle (@thebookmagnet) at The Book Magnet who said: "Steven Scaffardi has a Mary Poppins' handbag of hilarity that goes on and on until I had to put the book down from fear of actually splitting my sides!"
And to cap it all off, I was with Kerry Parsons (@bellaboobos11) from Chat About Books for another cracking interview. We spoke about where my ideas came from, how I picked the names for my characters, and who my favourite authors are. Make sure you check it out here.
Well, that's it! Week one is over and week two starts tomorrow with Chick Lit Goddess. A huge thank you to all of the bloggers who took part this week - you guys are awesome! Make sure you follow the progress on Twitter by using the hashtag #LadLitBlogTour and follow the rest of the blog tour here:
First off, I am delighted to announce that Matt Dunn will be joining the Lad Lit Blog Tour. The lad lit best-seller will be hosting a guest post from yours truly on his very own blog in a few weeks time.
The first week of the blog tour to promote lad lit has just come to a close and it's been fantastic so far. One of the highlights was being part of a Q&A on Jon Rance's blog, so to have signed up a second hugely successful lad lit author is a real honour.
And this week I interviewed Rob Radcliffe, who is currently flying high in the Amazon humour charts with his novel Meat Market. One of the highlights of my chat with Rob was finding out about his latest project called Untitled where his readers are helping him write the novel.
Rob said of the unique project: "As a writer you find yourself shut in the dark while you scribble away in the hope your book will connect with your readers once you have finished. For Untitled I have turned that on its head. As I write the chapters I post them on my website and the pages are accessible to people who have signed up to The Novel Experiment reader’s list. I wanted feedback and comments as I wrote this book, I wanted reader engagement as I went through the writing process and so far feedback has been awesome. There have been readers who have made suggestions to me which have helped shape the direction this novel is going and it is great. The title will be voted for by my ever growing email list and it really feel like I am connecting with the people I do this for, my readers"
You can check out the full interview here.
Tweet of the Week
He has a point...
This guy has accused Obama of being “weird and ridiculous”. pic.twitter.com/851pqEn3bp— Danny Wallace (@dannywallace) April 23, 2016
Hi Steve, thanks for having me on here. I’m Rob Radcliffe, I live in Manchester, a single dad with two very noisy kids, a full time job and a full time writing career to juggle. Sometimes I even get to sleep. I started writing books about twenty years ago when I was 13 or 14 and pray they have gotten at least a bit better since then.
Fast forward those twenty years and I currently have two lad-lit novels, a sci-fi novella, and a sci-fi novel published. Now that I’ve put it like that it feels like I haven’t been doing very much writing at all in two decades…oh dear.
You've had a pretty awesome start to April with your novel Meat Market topping the Kindle humour charts. Congratulations! Tell us a bit about that book and why you think it has done so well.
Meat Market is about a guy who gets dumped, loses his job and loses his dog in one swing of the axe. Down on his luck Greg doesn’t know where to turn and that is when his friend Stu dives in to get him back out there into the world of singledom. Greg reluctantly follows Stu on this ride into the realm of the single person and in turn Stu delivers his cock-eyed view of the world, eventually signing the reluctant Greg up to be a male escort like him.
I think the book has done so well recently because of the characters. On one side there is Greg, a scared and timid guy who has been in the same relationship since University, his first relationship, and now has to deal with trying to wade through the terrifying waters of having to talk to total strangers who are also the opposite sex. Then there is Stu, Greg’s mentor through these trying times, super confident, unapologetic, a real player whose job is escorting ladies 24/7. It’s really very chalk and cheese with these guys but with some hilarious moments because of this.
Any tips you can share to any aspiring authors reading this interview how to top those Amazon charts?
Publish and pray? No, only joking. I think authors these days really need to wear two hats. First and foremost is the writer, creating the stories and having a great time doing it, but then when you have your story all packaged and ready to go you need to switch hats and think like a publisher/marketer. Get onto social media, find out about advertising your wares, generate a decent author website, collect reader email addresses and talk to your fans about what is coming next from you. This way when readers start buying your books and subscribing to your newsletters, you have that core for your business so that the next time you have a book out, you can email your group, they will buy, you will start inching up the charts where you’ll have more exposure and collect more readers for the next time, growing and growing in popularity.
Meat Market is your second lad lit novel after The Race. We already know a bit about Meat Market so here is your chance to do the sales pitch for The Race. Go...!
The Race is about four friends spending eight days on the Greek Island of Zante. To make their holiday interesting they decide to introduce a scoreboard which will tally up points on each of their themed nights from Snogathon (see how many girls you can kiss), Frolic with a Fogey (points rewarded based on the age of the lady and how far the contestants get with them), then there is, Identity, Deception, the list goes on. Along the way they appoint one of them as the judge who proceeds in making the pointing systems more and more elaborate and confusing. There are laughs, fights, make ups, lads being lads on a lad’s holiday, and then there is the sex because, after all, each one of the guys wants that crowning glory and the title of Sex God.
Lad lit in space, now there’s a niche I’m guessing wouldn’t be too crowded, although wouldn’t that essentially have been the Red Dwarf spin off novels by Grant Naylor? I think for the ease of writing Lad Lit is my favourite genre to write in. It is also fun because really anything goes in terms of dialog. It is the closest to reality I write and so I try and keep the themes and characters as realistic as possible. Although, and this is a big ‘Although’, I recently finished a novel called The Divine which is a kind of an epic science fiction saga. It is not sci-fi in the traditional sense, there is no space or aliens, this book deals with themes such as immortality, evolution, the next step in man’s evolution and granted it took me a long time to write but at the moment it is the piece of work I am most proud of. The Divine will be a four or five book series but in between each book I will be writing a Lad Lit novel to keep myself entertained.
Out of all of the characters that you have written in your two lad lit novels, who is your favourite character and why?
Stu, without a doubt. Stu is Greg’s best friend in Meat Market, the unapologetic Lothario who leads Greg down the path of singledom and teaches him the way of his world. Such a great character, such fun to write and I think he comes out with the best and funniest one-liners in the novel. Upon reading Meat Market recently for the first time in several years an idea for a possible sequel has begun to form in my mind so watch this space.
Sounds intresting! We'll be watching! What made you decide to write lad lit?
I guess reading some lad lit, although I wasn’t even aware it was a genre at the time. I had spent my teenage years immersed in Jack Higgins, Stephen King, Irving Walsh, and John Grisham novels, but then I picked up a novel called What men think about sex by Mark Mason and loved the conversational style of writing. The Race was conceived on the back of Manson’s What men think about sex, and I gave writing in first person perspective a go…the end product is available for all to try. I went on to read Matt Dunn and Nick Hornby while writing and began to get a feel for the genre, but it wasn’t until I picked up Danny Wallace’s Join Me and then Yes Man that I realized how funny, sarcastic, and silly an author could be in order to make the reader smile. So in answering your question without going around the houses, Mark Mason introduced me to writing lad lit but Danny Wallace got me hooked.
Do you think lad lit will ever reach the heights of its older and much more successful sibling, chick lit?
That’s an interesting question, and I’d love to be the male Cecilia Ahern or Meriam Keyes but I think Chick Lit’s naughty younger brother will not be able to outshine his big sister and that is down to the readers. I have found that 70% of my Lad Lit novel’s readers are die-hard Chick Lit fans, which is great, but it also means there are still a lot of Chick Lit fans who don’t read Lad Lit…yet. As the reader base for this genre of writing is predominantly female it means more girls need to start discovering Lad Lit to even the playing field. That or guys could put down their FHM or Loaded magazines and start reading our stuff, come on guys, you’re letting the side down here, the girls are winning!
What are your top five lad lit novels?
5. Best Man by Matt Dunn
4. The Catch by Mark Mason
3. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
2. What Men Think About Sex by Mark Mason
1. Yes Man by Danny Wallace
Unless of course I am allowed my own, yes Meat Market is by far my favourite Lad Lit novel. No? Against the rules voting for myself? Oh, alright then, stick with the list.
What's next for Rob Radcliffe the lad lit author?
The novel I am currently writing is called Untitled and is available for free download on amazon, itunes, B&N etc. I should probably explain what I am doing with this project a little more. As a writer you find yourself shut in the dark while you scribble away in the hope your book will connect with your readers once you have finished. For Untitled I have turned that on its head. As I write the chapters I post them on my website and the pages are accessible to people who have signed up to The Novel Experiment reader’s list. I wanted feedback and comments as I wrote this book, I wanted reader engagement as I went through the writing process and so far feedback has been awesome. There have been readers who have made suggestions to me which have helped shape the direction this novel is going and it is great. The title will be voted for by my ever growing email list and it really feel like I am connecting with the people I do this for, my readers.
As of this morning I am 26,000 words into the novel (Lad Lit but a lot darker than anything I have written before) and I am hoping to have the finished product available by June/July.
Once Untitled is done and dusted I will begin outlining for book two of the Divine Chronicles: CHRONOS. Already ideas are littering my head but I need to keep kicking them to the side so I can get Untitled written and ready for my readers.
Sounds very cool! I'll keep my eyes open for that. Good luck with the project and thanks for stopping by.
Find out more about Rob at his website and at his Amazon author page.